April 13, 2008,
S.H. asks from Los Angeles, CA on April 09, 2008
What Is Expected at Kindergaten?
Hi. My daughter will be attending kindergarten in the fall. I am curious to what is expected of children as they start kindergarten. I have heard "horror stories". My daughter's first language is Swedish. She can't read or write although she recognizes some letters. Should I be worried? We are currently in Sweden where everything is more laid back. How can I make the transition smooth for her?
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So What Happened?™
Hi everyone and thank you all so much for all the wonderful advice. I think I can relax a bit now. I have learned from all the responses that there are various ways to go about this. I will find a kindergarten that feels right for us. It is even possible that I will hold her back a year since that is also possible. The most important thing is that the time and place is right so I wont rush this. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.
G.O. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
I would try to get her into preschool as quickly as possible to try and catch up. She might have to wait an extra year to start kindergarten.
C.S. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
I am a kindergarten teacher so here it goes...
Children enter kindergarten at all different levels- you have nothing to worry about because she will learn everything throughout her time in kindergarten and your reinforcing it at home!
Second language learners pick up on English very quickly at this age because so much of kindergarten involves oral language activities. I have had many students enter not speaking any English and by the Winter break they are fluent.
Social/Emotional: The most important things for her are to be able to sit quietly on a rug, listen to stories, follow directions, cut/glue/hold a pencil and be able to take care of herself (go to the bathroom, wipe, pull pants up and down).
Academic: As far as academics...if she has some knowledge of letter recognition and numbers to 10- that is great. Our curriculum focuses on letter recognition and then we introduce the sounds of each letter. Once the students know the sounds they then piece it together to sound out words for reading and writing. She will also begin learning high frequency words...all of which the teacher should introduce slowly. She does not need to come into Kindergarten reading and writing- she will learn it at her own pace throughout the year. One helpful thing is to be able to write her name as well as recognize it.
I can give you more information if you want to email me (or any one else). I have a great handout on games to play over the summer before your child starts kindergarten. I can also send you the state standards and this will give you an idea of what she will be learning and what is expected by the end of the year. Have no fear- everything is fine. It sounds like she is right on track. You will be amazed at the progress your child makes. Let me know if you need anything else...
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K.R. answers from Los Angeles on April 13, 2008
Make sure to read to her every day and start making a list of words in the story that she can remember. These will be her sight words list. She should know how to spell those words, write and read them. So that every time you read to her, she will at least recognize the sight words and begin to start reading. Words like: because, and, but, she, he.
A.S. answers from Los Angeles on April 11, 2008
first thing: don't worry too much! Plenty of childeren aren't reading at kindergarten. Once in the school arena and atmosphere, I have no doubt she will very soon be at peer level, wherever that is in your school. As others have responed, I think they'll give you a "what to expect" packet at the school and perhaps you can visit there with her to get acquainted.
also, I've read that in some cases, bi-lingual children are slower to 'get' some aspects of language arts (reading/writing) than monolingual kids initially. . .but they soon catch up, and the gift of the two languages will more than make up for that, over and over and over.
I am sure of this as my brother lives in Sweden and raised 2 bilingual kids - now 20 and 18. I'm doing the same but her in Altadena, with an Argentinian husband (so it's Spanish/English). My daughter comprehends everything in both but chooses to speak English at the moment.
M.G. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
Don't worry. If you are nervous it will probably be picked up by your daughter, and you do not want her to be afraid of school. Having worked in a kindergarten class in the past and having my third child currently in kindergarten I can tell you that she will do fine. It is true that standards to meet are higher, and that by the end of kindergarten children are expected to read and do addition, but not to start the year. When I enrolled my child in school I received a packet of what is recomended, not required, for children to know when they enter kindergarten.This list included knowing how to write your name, being able to say your address and phone number, recognizing letters and the sounds they make, being able to count to 20, recognizing numbers 0-10, knowing and naming colors, knowing how to use sissors to cut on a line, and being able to tie shoes, if not to wear shoes with out laces. Most likely the first trimester of school will be dedicated to learning and re-enforcing these skills anyways. These were kindergarten exit skills 15 years ago, so there is more to do, but you are on track. Many children do not know how to do these things at the start of the year and it is O.K. I have seen children who do not know how to hold a pencil write sentences by Thanksgiving, and those who don't speak English have detailed conversations by Christmas. You do not need to force these skills on her, make learnig some of this a game and know that the fact that you are involved in her education and willing to help her learn is a good indicator that she will succed.
A.M. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
It probably depends where you are sending her to school but in general you should not worry. The most important thing for kidergarten is that she know how to follow directions, listen, sit quietly in a group and have some general social skills. Also some fine motor skills (using scissors, etc). Reading is what K is for- don't stress about that. At least that is what I have been told. I have a son entering K in the fall as well. Good luck.
H.H. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
first off welcome to the US! secondly, you're fine. just keep working with her at home. the expectations can be horror stories and i'm the first to complain (and my kid is bright and his first language is english!)! the thing is YOU make the expectations and let the teacher know! you can work together towards english speaking kids' expectations! she'll likely catch up super quick. don't push too hard even if the school does. if she's reasonable smart (like without learning disabilities) she'll catch up very soon. don't hold her back, just keep working with her!!!
wish i could take my son where it's more laid back! : )
good luck to her and i hope you enjoy this country!
J.F. answers from Los Angeles on April 11, 2008
I am a kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles, CA. To be honest with you expectations for your daughter will depend on what school you enroll her in. There will be kindergarten classes that are very academic. The parents were told at my son's kindergarten orientation that he should know all his letters, sounds, and numbers to 30 before he entered kindergarten in September. As a teacher, who knows the state standards for kindergarten, I challenged his school because those are expectations that kinder students are suppose to know by the time they complete kindergarten. I am not saying that academics are a bad thing, but here in the states, high stakes test scores are big with No Child Left Behind law.
I many countries, like Sweden, children are not "rushed" into reading and writing. They tend to focus on developing the social and emotional skills first. The literacy skills will come later and the most literate countries do not rush students into reading at 5, and wait until 7, even 8 years.
So here is my advice to you. First off, find out what school she will be attending in the states. Visit and ask questions about the teaching and learning philosophy of the school.
Are they promoting high test scores and academics, or is a a more developmental program focusing on developing the whole child. As a child development major, I tend to learn towards the latter.
Here are some major standards in CA that kindergarten students should know and be able to do at the end of kindergarten (END):
Letter by name and sounds each letter makes
Blend sounds into simple 3 or 4 letter words (for example CVC, consonant vowel consonant words such as pet, dot, cat, fun, etc.)
Reads about 30 - 50 sight words
Numbers from 0-30
Adds and subtracts to sums of 10 using manipulatives
Here is what I expect of entering kindergarten students:
-recognize name, colors, basic shapes
-may know how to write their names (we practice if they don't, but it's helpful if they do)
-can follow simple directions and routines
-been read to at home, exposure to literature and stories
-maybe able to recognize some letters and numbers (although I have had students that did not recognize any, and was okay because by mid-year they were able to).
-enjoys learning about the world around them, curious,
-confident, happy, creative
-able to express needs
-able to cut
-holds a pencil
-draws shapes, colors
I am sorry for going on and on. Just wanted to let you know, your daughter is fine and is where she is suppose to be. But also want to warn you that in the states there are schools and school districts where expectations are more academic for kinders. Good Luck!
H.P. answers from Los Angeles on April 10, 2008
I used to teach kindergarten, and it is helpful if the kids come in knowing letter recognition(upper and lower), and can identify their numbers. I would not worry to much if your child has been more exposed to the Swedish language, as at this age, the second language learners pick up the English language rapidly. Believe it or not, by the end of Kindergarten, your child will be reading, adding and subtracting, and writing one or more complete sentences. By the way, if you want to teach sounds before your child attends, Zoo Phonics is an excellent program.